Quotations of Wisdom

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David S Allen

The "consumer" has replaced the "citizen" in American society. — Paraphrase of passage from page 10 of Democracy, Inc. [Q241]

Napoleon Hill

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. [Q686]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doing well is the result of doing good. That's what capitalism is all about. [Q408]

Sir Francis Bacon

Practical men, like owls, see clearly in the dim twilight of their preconceptions and are blinded by the bright light of truth. [Q1871]

Hideki Tōjō

It is natural that I should bear entire responsibility for the war in general, and, needless to say, I am prepared to do so. Consequently, now that the war has been lost, it is presumably necessary that I be judged so that the circumstances of the time can be clarified and the future peace of the world be assured. Therefore, with respect to my trial, it is my intention to speak frankly, according to my recollection, even though when the vanquished stands before the victor, who has over him the power of life and death, he may be apt to toady and flatter. I mean to pay considerable attention to this in my actions, and say to the end that what is true is true and what is false is false. To shade one's words in flattery to the point of untruthfulness would falsify the trial and do incalculable harm to the nation, and great care must be taken to avoid this. [Q1058]

George Orwell

It is a fact that the much-boasted freedom of the British press is theoretical rather than actual. To begin with, the centralised ownership of the press means in practice that unpopular opinions can only be printed in books or in newspapers with small circulations. [Q1670]


No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding. [Q888]

Karl Urban

That's always an interesting concept when you try to make your dream into a reality and you come up against the facts of exactly what it is you're attempting to do. [Q210]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well. [Q406]

Herbert Simon

Maybe we ought to have a world in which things are divided between people kind of fairly. [Q644]

Kathleen Parker

Politics - Even when you win an argument based on half-truths, the people lose. [Q1665]

Albert Einstein

The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer. [Q18]

Michel de Montaigne

The ceaseless labour of your life is to build the house of death. [Q1175]


Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well. [Q868]

Thomas Paine

That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not. [Q273]

Dante Alighieri

No one thinks of how much blood it costs. [Q1511]

Margaret Mead

Life in the twentieth century is like a parachute jump: you have to get it right the first time. [Q1424]

Senator Paul Simon

Religion is a powerful force for evil — and a powerful force for good. Religion kills, and religion heals. [Q1688]


The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. [Q865]

Senator Paul Simon

Elijah Lovejoy's Speech

I feel, Mr. Chairman, that this is the most solemn moment of my life. I feel, I trust, in some measure the responsibilities which at this hour I sustain to these, my fellow-citizens, to the Church of which I am a minister, to my country, and to God. And let me beg of you, before I proceed further, to construe nothing I shall say as being disrespectful to this assembly. I have no such feeling; far from it. And if I do not act or speak according to their wishes at all times, it is because I cannot conscientiously do it.

It is proper I should state the whole matter, as I understand it, before this audience. I do not stand here to argue the question, as presented by the report of the committee. My only wonder is that the honourable gentleman, the chairman of that committee, for whose character I entertain great respect, though I have not the pleasure of his personal acquaintance—my only wonder is how that gentleman could have brought himself to submit such a report.

Mr. Chairman, I do not admit that it is the business of this assembly to decide whether I shall or shall not publish a newspaper in this city. The gentlemen have, as the lawyers say, made a wrong issue. I have the right to do it. I know that I have the right freely to speak and publish my sentiments, subject only to the laws of the land for the abuse of that right. This right was given me by my Maker; and is solemnly guaranteed to me by the constitution of these United States, and of this State. What I wish to know of you is, whether you will protect me in the exercise of this right; or whether, as heretofore, I am to be subjected to personal indignity and outrage. These resolutions, and the measures proposed by them, are spoken of as a compromise—a compromise between two parties. Mr. Chairman, this is not so. There is but one party here. It is simply a question whether the law shall be enforced, or whether the mob shall be allowed, as they now do, to continue to trample it under their feet, by violating with impunity the rights of an innocent individual.

Mr. Chairman, what have I to compromise? If freely to forgive those who have so greatly injured me, if to pray for their temporal and eternal happiness, if still to wish for the prosperity of your city and State, notwithstanding all the indignities I have suffered in it—if this be the compromise intended, then do I willingly make it. My rights have been shamefully, wickedly outraged; this I know, and feel, and can never forget. But I can and do freely forgive those who have done it. But if by a compromise is meant that I should cease from doing that which duty requires of me, I cannot make it. And the reason is, that I fear God more than I fear man. Think not that I would lightly go contrary to public sentiment around me. The good opinion of my fellow-men is dear to me, and I would sacrifice anything but principle to obtain their good wishes; but when they ask me to surrender this, they ask for more than I can, than I dare give. Reference is made to the fact that I offered a few days since to give up the editorship of the Observer into other hands. This is true; I did so because it was thought or said by some that perhaps the paper would be better patronised in other hands. They declined accepting my offer, however, and since then we have heard from the friends and supporters of the paper in all parts of the State. There was but one sentiment among them, and this was, that the paper could be sustained in no other hands than mine. It is also a very different question, whether I shall voluntarily, or at the request of friends, yield up my post, or whether I shall forsake it at the demand of a mob. The former I am at all times ready to do, when circumstances occur to require it, as I will never put my personal wishes or interests in competition with the cause of that Master whose minister I am. But the latter, be assured, I NEVER will do. God, in his providence, so say all my brethren, and so I think, has devolved upon me the responsibility of maintaining my ground here; and, Mr. Chairman, I am determined to do it. A voice comes to me from Maine, from Massachusetts, from Connecticut, from New York, from Pennsylvania—yea, from Kentucky, from Mississippi, from Missouri—calling upon me, in the name of all that is dear in heaven or earth, to stand fast; and by the help of God, I WILL STAND. I know I am but one, and you are many. My strength would avail but little against you all. You can crush me, if you will; but I shall die at my post, for I cannot and will not forsake it.

Why should I flee from Alton? Is not this a free State? When assailed by a mob at St. Louis, I came hither, as to the home of freedom and of the laws. The mob has pursued me here, and why should I retreat again? Where can I be safe, if not here? Have not I a right to claim the protection of the laws? What more can I have in any other place? Sir, the very act of retreating will embolden the mob to follow me wherever I go. No, sir, there is no way to escape the mob but to abandon the path of duty, and that, God helping me, I will never do.

It has been said here that my hand is against every man, and every man's hand against me. The last part of the declaration is too painfully true. I do indeed find almost every hand lifted against me; but against whom, in this place, has my hand been raised? I appeal to every individual present; whom of you have I injured? Whose character have I traduced? Whose family have I molested? Whose business have I meddled with? If any, let him rise here and testify against me. [No one answers]

And do not your resolutions say that you find nothing against my private or personal character? And does any one believe that, if there was anything to be found, it would not be found and brought forth? If in anything I have offended against the law, I am not so popular in this community as that it would be difficult to convict me. You have courts, and judges, and juries; they find nothing against me. And now you come together for the purpose of driving out a confessedly innocent man, for no cause but that he dares to think and speak as his conscience and his God dictate. Will conduct like this stand the scrutiny of your country, of posterity, above all, of the judgment-day? For remember, the Judge of that day is no respecter of persons. Pause, I beseech you, and reflect! the present excitement will soon be over; the voice of conscience will at last be heard. And in some season of honest thought, even in this world, as you review the scenes of this hour, you will be compelled to say, `He was right; he was right!'

But you have been exhorted to be lenient and compassionate, and in driving me away to affix no unnecessary disgrace upon me. Sir, I reject all such compassion. You cannot disgrace me. Scandal, and falsehood, and calumny have already done their worst. My shoulders have borne the burden till it sits easy upon them. You may hang me up as the mob hung up the individuals of Vicksburg! You may burn me at the stake, as they did McIntosh at St. Louis, or you may tar and feather me, or throw me into the Mississippi, as you have often threatened to do; but you cannot disgrace me. I, and I alone, can disgrace myself; and the deepest of all disgrace would be, at a time like this, to deny my Master by forsaking his cause. He died for me, and I were most unworthy to bear his name should I refuse, if need be, to die for him!

Again, you have been told that I have a family, who are dependent on me, and this has been given as a reason why I should be driven off as gently as possible. It is true, Mr. Chairman, I am a husband and a father; and this it is that adds the bitterest ingredient to the cup of sorrow I am called to drink. I am made to feel the wisdom of the Apostle's advice, `It is better not to marry.' I know sir, that in this contest I stake not my life only, but that of others also. I do not expect my wife will ever recover the shock received at the awful scenes through which she was called to pass at St. Charles. And how was it the other night on my return to my house? I found her driven to the garret, through fear of the mob, who were prowling round my house; and scarcely had I entered the house ere my windows were broken in by the brickbats of the mob, and she so alarmed that it was impossible for her to sleep or rest that night. I am hunted as a partridge upon the mountains; I am pursued as a felon through your streets; and to the guardian power of the law I look in vain for that protection against violence which even the vilest criminal may claim.

Yet think not that I am unhappy. Think not that I regret the choice that I have made. While all around me is violence and tumult, all is peace within. An approving conscience and the rewarding smile of God is a full recompense for all that I forego and all that I endure. Yes, sir, I enjoy a peace which nothing can destroy. I sleep sweetly and undisturbed, except when awaked by the brickbats of the mob.

No, sir, I am not unhappy. I have counted the cost and stand prepared freely to offer up my all in the service of God. Yes, sir, I am fully aware of all the sacrifices I make in here pledging myself to continue this contest to the last. (Forgive these tears—I had not intended to shed them, and they flow not for myself, but others.) But I am commanded to forsake father, and mother, and wife, and children for Jesus' sake; and as his professed disciple I stand prepared to do it. The time for fulfilling this pledge in my case, it seems to me, has come. Sir, I dare not flee away from Alton. Should I attempt it, I should feel that the angel of the Lord, with his flaming sword, was pursuing me wherever I went. It is because I fear God that I am not afraid of all who oppose me in this city. No, sir, the contest has commenced here, and here it must be finished. Before God and you all, I here pledge myself to continue it, if need be, till death. If I fall, my grave shall be made in Alton.



Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men. [Q1500]

Martin Frost

The level of discourse in this country is falling to a depth that cannot be sustained. [Q1378]

Buckminster Fuller

While it takes but meager search to discover that many well-known concepts are false, it takes considerable search and even more careful examination of one's own personal experiences and inadvertently spontaneous reflexing to discover that there are many popularly and even professionally unknown, yet nonetheless fundamental, concepts to hold true in all cases and that already have been discovered by other as yet obscure individuals. That is to say that many scientific generalizations have been discovered but have not come to the attention of what we call the educated world at large, thereafter to be incorporated tardily within the formal education processes, and even more tardily, in the ongoing political-economic affairs of everyday life. Knowledge of the existence and comprehensive significance of these as yet popularly unrecognized natural laws often is requisite to the solution of many of the as yet unsolved problems now confronting society. Lack of knowledge of the solution's existence often leaves humanity confounded when it need not be. — The Wellspring of Reality [Q178]

Václav Havel

If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation. [Q1761]

Ward Cunningham

People can and do trust works produced by people they don’t know. The real world is still trying to figure out how Wikipedia works. A fantastic resource. Open source is produced by people that you can’t track down, but you can trust it in very deep ways. People can trust works by people they don’t know in this low communication cost environment. [Q1008]


I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning. [Q884]

Václav Havel

The most important thing is that man should be the measure of all structures, including economic structures, and not that man be made to measure for those structures. [Q1772]

George McGovern

Let the opposition collect their $10 million in secret money from the privileged few and let us find one million ordinary Americans who will contribute $25 each to this campaign, a Million Member Club with members who will not expect special favors for themselves but a better land for us all. — 1972 Democratic Convention, Miami Florida [Q2026]

Missouri Constitution of 1820

...free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and that every person may freely speak, write, and print, on any subject... [Q1883]

Marie Curie

I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries. [Q327]

Napoleon Bonaparte

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. [Q92]

Randy Pausch

I'm a scientist who sees inspiration as the ultimate tool for doing good. [Q54]

Robert Pirsig

The truth knocks on your door and you say, go away I'm looking for the truth, and it goes away. Puzzling. [Q373]

Joan Didion

Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power. [Q2079]

John Boyd Orr

When the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century brought a rapid increase in wealth, the demand of workers for a fair share of the wealth they were creating was conceded only after riots and strikes. [Q1159]

Edward de Bono

We prefer to put our trust in evolution. This is because evolution is gradual and allows the pressure of needs, values, reactions and events to mould ideas. It allows the shaping force of criticism. Bad ideas will die. Good ideas will survive and become even better. We really like the method of evolution because it fits our traditional thinking habits. Change has its own energy and we can modify and control this by the use of our critical faculties because criticism is the basis of our thinking tradition. Evolution is also collective and seems democratic, whereas design always seems autocratic. (From the book, I am Right, you are Wrong, page 19) [Q1997]

Scott Nesler

The lack of a common language is a barrier. Even with the same dialect, each technology contains its own obtrusive jargon. Joining together a diverse group in a common language requires time and resources which many are not motivated to provide. [Q378]

Richard Stallman

The desire to be rewarded for one's creativity does not justify depriving the world in general of all or part of that creativity. [Q1246]


There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands. [Q904]


We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. [Q1567]

Konrad Lorenz

Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one. [Q1432]


Dr. Mark Powell: What if I were to tell you that according to a man who lived on our planet, named Einstein, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light?

prot: I would say that you misread Einstein, Dr. Powell. May I call you Mark? You see Mark, what Einstein actually said was that nothing can accelerate to the speed of light because its mass would become infinite. Einstein said nothing about entities already traveling at the speed of light or faster.


Nicholas Sparks

Because publishing is becoming more business-oriented each day with more examination of the bottom line, it's harder to break out than ever. [Q1195]

Miles Davis

I'll play it first and tell you what it is later. [Q2056]

Charles Lindbergh

I have seen the science I worshipped, and the aircraft I loved, destroying the civilization I expected them to serve. [Q1943]

Margaret Mead

Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful. [Q951]

John Steinbeck

No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself. [Q1370]

Saul Alinsky

Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you're free to live. You no longer care about your reputation. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in. [Q988]


Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance. [Q1572]

T.S. Elliot

There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labeled. [Q340]

Hermann Hesse

Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. [Q579]

Alexis de Tocqueville

The genius of democracies is seen not only in the great number of new words introduced but even more in the new ideas they express. [Q960]

Ward Cunningham

I’m not a fan of classification. It’s very difficult to come up with a classification scheme that’s useful when what you’re most interested in is things that don’t fit in, things that you didn’t expect. But some people decided that every page should carry classification. They came up with a scheme, based on page names, to establish a classification structure for a wiki. And these people who care about classification maintain it. [Q1009]

Andy Kaufman

I just want real reactions. I want people to laugh from the gut, be sad from the gut-or get angry from the gut. [Q234]

Nikola Tesla

Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine. [Q1679]

Bill McCartney

All coaching is, is taking a player where he can't take himself. [Q473]

Al Gore

Our democracy, our constitutional framework is really a kind of software for harnessing the creativity and political imagination for all of our people. The American democratic system was an early political version of Napster. [Q1245]

Buckminster Fuller

Always go along with the truth as you know it. [Q134]

Blaise Pascal

I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room. [Q588]

Buckminster Fuller

While my contemporaries were looking how to make a living, I decided to focus on what needed to be done for society. [Q130]

Battle of Belief in World War II American Radio Works

Wherever authoritarian regimes, political conflict or civil wars exist, there is black radio. [Q652]

Bruce Sterling

The level of ignorance is declining, and the ability to accumulate data and manipulate it for various ends is increasing. [Q1740]

Franklin Roosevelt

Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. [Q472]

Roger von Oech

Most people think of success and failure as opposites, but they both are products of the same process. [Q581]

Gautama Buddha

There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. [Q2]

Galileo Galilei

It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment. [Q939]

Marshall McLuhan

I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't believed it. [Q1460]

Roger Penrose

Well, gauge theory is very fundamental to our understanding of physical forces these days. But they are also dependent on a mathematical idea, which has been around for longer than gauge theory has. [Q1040]


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. [Q913]

Albert Einstein

Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity. [Q428]

George Washington

... there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways: by convincing those who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people; and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience, and those resulting from the inevitable exigences of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness—cherishing the first, avoiding the last; and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws. [Q1834]

Senator Paul Simon

Perhaps being born the year before the Great Depression of 1929 made me fiscally conservative, and the misery faced by so many people made me socially liberal. [Q1671]

Sim Van der Ryn

The best design experience occur when no one can claim credit for the solution – when the solution grows and evolves organically out a particular situation, process, and pattern of communication. [Q345]

Galileo Galilei

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. [Q943]

Thomas Paine

If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately. [Q266]

Upton Sinclair

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. [Q57]


There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres. [Q927]

Margaret Mead

A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again. [Q1414]

Nikola Tesla

Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life. [Q1678]

Bertrand Russell

The evils of the world are due to moral defects quite as much as to lack of intelligence. But the human race has not hitherto discovered any method of eradicating moral defects.... Intelligence, on the contrary, is easily improved by methods known to every competent educator. Therefore, until some method of teaching virtue has been discovered, progress will have to be sought by improvement of intelligence rather than of morals [Q1180]

Thomas Jefferson

The bill for establishing religious freedom... I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.' The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination. [Q609]

John J. Sweeney

For globalization to work for America, it must work for working people. We should measure the success of our economy by the breadth of our middle class, and the scope of opportunity offered to the poorest child to climb into that middle class. [Q439]

Thomas Jefferson

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. [Q1242]

Michel de Montaigne

How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables. [Q1166]

Dalai Lama

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness. [Q545]


To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete. [Q825]

Ward Cunningham

I can’t tell you how much time is spent worrying about decisions that don’t matter. To just be able to make a decision and see what happens is tremendously empowering, but that means you have to set up the situation such that when something does go wrong, you can fix it. [Q1006]

Robert Heinlein

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. [Q1207]

Napoleon Hill

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything. [Q683]

John Boyd Orr

When the fabric of society is so rigid that it cannot change quickly enough, adjustments are achieved by social unrest and revolutions. [Q1158]

Albert Einstein

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. [Q19]

Mohandas Gandhi

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding. [Q558]

Herbert Simon

The social sciences, I thought, needed the same kind of rigor and the same mathematical underpinnings that had made the "hard" sciences so brilliantly successful. [Q649]

Martin Luther King

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. [Q39]


I'd rather understand one cause than be King of Persia. [Q1132]

Thomas Paine

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. [Q261]

Marshall McLuhan

When producers want to know what the public wants, they graph it as curves. When they want to tell the public what to get, they say it in curves. [Q1488]

Thomas Jefferson

The less wealthy people,... by the bill for a general education, would be qualified to understand their rights, to maintain them, and to exercise with intelligence their parts in self-government; and all this would be effected without the violation of a single natural right of any one individual citizen. [Q533]


Time is the most valuable possession a man can spend. [Q832]

Bo Derek

It's really difficult for me. Language, I am sorry that I haven't. I think I just always expected that you learn a word in place of a word and when I discovered how difficult the grammar was and learning that was very discouraging for me. [Q2080]

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